My career has led me to experience deep conversations with people who have made mistakes. Life can be tough enough when terrible things happen to you, but somehow it is much more difficult if the problem is of your own making or choosing.
It is also tragically easy for some victims to be manipulated into believing that the painful words and actions of others are the victim’s fault, not the perpetrator’s. The mind can horrifically go through scenarios where the victim desperately seeks a solution to the problem by blaming themselves.
It is possible for skilled helpers to help such people steer a steady course through this torrent of self-blame-culture shot at you from the longbow of another’s avoidance.
But what if the mistakes are genuinely yours? In such cases, the one thing that does NOT help is to be in denial. It is always more difficult to face such concerns if you can’t bring yourself to face it at all.
But it made me think of film-making. At the click of a keystroke, we can now watch film and TV “bloopers” as many times as we want. Sometimes our reaction is to smile, or laugh, or maybe go “ouch”. But I wonder how it feels for the actors, crew and producers to see the scene in their heads not being acted out on film, over and over again? How many times will these people keep on doing exactly the same thing, with the slightest of variations, in order to capture the precise scene in a director’s imagination?
The answer is simple; as often as it takes.
There may be countless mis-takes; takes which are just not quite right.
But the commitment to the film project makes everyone keep trying until those wonderful words are heard; “Cut, Print”. They finally have what they needed to get on film. The name of the game is endurance, resilience and patience.
It is easy to keep running yourself down when you have made many mis-takes in life. To convince yourself that you are defined by those endless times you never got it “quite right”. As a child, I had a Junior school teacher who tried to teach me needlework. Badly. Once a week we had to queue up at her desk for her to inspect our work. All I ever heard from this woman was “Wrong. Do it Again”.
Never once did she tell me what was wrong. I was left floundering, beginning to believe that I would never be able to stitch. After 2 years in her class, of endless repetitions of trying to do three running stitches, then having to unpick them and repeat, she finally changed her tune. She said to me “Pat, you will never finish anything”.
The awful thing is, for a long time, I believed her. It was only when a special friend encouraged me to try cross stitch, and who stayed with me long enough to help me figure out how to turn mistakes into object lessons, that I learned that a “Mistake +Correction = Learning”. I have since started, and finished, several quite tricky cross-stitch projects, like the one in the picture above, and been ecstatic with the results. This particular kit was bought for me by my husband, When I longingly admired the demonstration sample in a craft shop, he asked me if I wanted to buy the kit.
I replied, ”No”.
“Because I could never do that – I’m not good enough”
His response was mind-blowing, and unknown to me at the time, life-changing.
“I believe you can”. And he bought me the kit.
That simple statement changed how I saw myself. I kept going until I completed the picture, and in doing so, destroyed the wrong perception of myself. If I made a mistake, I worked it until I could get it right. It did not matter how long it took. I would get there.
And God believes in you. You may have made mistakes, but treat them as mis-takes, re-set the “film”, and try again. As long as it takes. God is cheering you on.
- What words have been spoken to you that have held you back?
- Were they ever valid?
- Are they still valid?
- How long will you let those words define you, or your life?
- What will it take to rob those destructive words of their power over you?
- Do whatever it takes…